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02 May 2018 Photo Charl Devenish
South Campus UAP celebrates 27 years of access to education
Mr Francois Marais, Prof Kalie Strydom, Prof Daniella Coetzee (South Campus Principal), Prof Francis Petersen, Dr Nthabeleng Rammile (Vice-Chairperson of the UFS Council), and Dr Khotso Mokhele (Chancellor of the UFS).

More than 27 years ago, international funding from the Human Sciences Research Council and Anglo American was put to an unusual use for that time. Prof Kalie Strydom’s research unit at the University of the Free State (UFS) was tasked with reviewing how institutional missions would change in the new South Africa. Prof Strydom worked closely with surrounding communities in Bloemfontein to develop a bridging course which would help students who showed potential to access tertiary education, although they did not meet the requirements. His vision brought to birth the University Access Programme (UAP), as it is known today, which is hosted on the UFS South Campus, and is still providing unique access to higher-education institutions in South Africa.

People with a passion for human development
March 2018 saw the 27th anniversary of this remarkable initiative, which has given a second chance to over 18 000 students. Special guests at the event included Prof Strydom, Mr Francois Marais, and representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training and Investec’s corporate social investment office.

Dr Sonja Loots, researcher in the UFS Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), singled out two key individuals in the formation of the UAP: Prof Kalie Strydom, who initiated the programme, and Mr Marais, who has been Director of the UAP since its inception. Dr Loots highlighted one of the driving forces behind Prof Strydom’s perseverance, vision, and determination with the UAP by quoting from an interview with him for an upcoming book on student access and success. He said, “It was a decision based on principle … to be part of the solution to a better country.”

Access and success still an issue today
In his presentation on the “Importance of Access”, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, pointed out the vital role of access in South Africa, especially the value it offers for the betterment of the country’s people. However, he said that student success is also an issue, and institutions need to be accountable for it. Quoting Prof John Martin of the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Engineering, “We must be flexible on access, but robust on success.” Only by “closing the loop” in this way, can the UFS and other higher-education institutions ensure a valuable contribution to the economy of the country.

News Archive

Emma Sadleir talks about social media etiquette
2016-05-18

Description: Emma Sadlier Tags: Emma Sadlier

Emma Sadleir
Photo: Supplied

“We have all become celebrities, we have become social figures because of our power to publish information. We have all become brands, and we need to protect our brand. Digital content is sometimes dangerous content,” said Sadleir.

On 11 May 2016, the University of the Free State, in collaboration with the Postgraduate School, hosted, Emma Sadleir, a leading social media expert, in the Equitas Auditorium on the Bloemfontein Campus. She is an admitted advocate, specialising in social media law.  Dr Henriette van den Berg, Director of the Postgraduate School, described Sadleir’s presentation as a privilege for all the staff and students who attended.

Sadleir said that there are two important rules that staff and students of an institution should try to follow. The first is not to bring the name of the institution into disrepute; and the second is not to breach the goodwill of the institution or, in other words, not to bite the hand that feeds you.

“The common law, even if there is no policy, is that anything that brings the company into disrepute can lead to disciplinary consequences up to termination,” said Sadleir.

Sadleir focused on hate speech and free speech, stating that free speech is a right that is entrenched in the constitution, but, like every other right, it has limitations. She mentioned Penny Sparrow, Matt Theunissen, Velaphi Khumalo, and Judge Mabel Jansen, all of whom have been lambasted by the public over their racist posts on social media. Sadleir stressed that, even on social media, content has to be within the confines of the law, and people must remember our rights are not absolute. We have a lot of freedoms, but no one cannot disseminate hate speech.

“Would you publish whatever you thinking on a billboard, close to a busy highway with your name, picture and employers details or the institution you studying at? If you have no grounds to justify the comment, do not post it,” warned Sadlier.  

According to the South African Bill of Rights, everyone has the right to privacy, but an expectation of privacy has to be enforced. She said people over-document their lives on social media, decreasing your right to privacy drastically. “It is like CCTV footage of your life. It is simple, the more you take care of your privacy, the more you have,” said Sadleir.

Sadleir said it was important for Facebook users to have privacy settings where they can review posts where they are tagged. According to Sadleir, managing your reputation is not only limited to what you post about yourself but also managing what others post about you.

She cited a 2013 case in the Pretoria High Court in which a new wife wrote a scandalous Facebook post about her husband’s ex-wife, tagging the husband in the post. The courts found both the new wife and the husband guilty of defamation.

“If you have been tagged in something but have not been online and seen the content, you are then an innocent disseminator. The moment you are aware of the post you are liable for the content,” said Sadleir.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently,” Sadleir said, concluding her presentation with the quotation from Warren Buffet.

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